The Envision Tri-City Cycling Challenge 2017

Pedal Powered Change

What is the Tri-City Cycling Challenge?  

The challenge is a sponsored bike ride from Bristol to Birmingham to London to raise money for more young people to participate in the Community-Apprentice programme. The programme develops the employability of young people, typically from less advantaged backgrounds, by empowering them to take social action to tackle real life problems in their local community.  There’s a double benefit – the projects help their local communities, and they develop their own skills and employability.  A detailed and authoritative Cabinet Office funded trial has proved that Community-Apprentice develops some of the most critical skills for life and work, and so levels the educational playing field and enhances social mobility. Sound interesting? Read on to find out more. 

Why have you chosen to go from Bristol to Birmingham to London?

Envision operates in 3 cities – Bristol, Birmingham and London. It so happens that Bristol-Birmingham and Birmingham-London are both scenic bike routes.   The ride amounts to 250 miles, so it will be a genuine challenge!  It will take place midsummer, so there will be plenty of daylight to complete the ride in – and sunshine will of course be guaranteed…

Tri-City Ride – that sounds crowded and potentially a bit dangerous?  

Cycling is a relatively low risk activity, but we have developed the ride to ensure it is as safe and fun as possible. We have planned the route to minimise time spent on busy roads and 90% of the ride will on B roads.  The longest A road stretch on is just over 5 miles, and none of the A roads are busy.  We will be riding the route through in advance to check it, we will be providing guidance and advice in the lead up to the ride, including health and safety tips, we will give a detailed briefing at the start of the ride, and we will encourage riding in groups to minimise risk.  Our route deliberately avoids the centres of Bristol and Birmingham, and the route into London has been planned carefully to keep the time spent on busy roads to an absolute minimum.  Much of the route will be on the Sustrans national cycle network – roads specifically recommended by the charity Sustrans for cycling.

If you aren’t confident about urban cycling, and you live or work in London, you can book a FREE session with a pro cycling instructor.  It’s easy - select your borough, complete the online form, and a pro cycling instructor will get in touch to arrange a session at a time and place that suits you. You’ll work 1-1 both on and off roads in London to build your confidence in urban cycling techniques.  We recommend this whether you do the ride or not.

How will the ride work?  

We will transport bikes from London.  Most participants are arriving in Bristol by train on Thursday evening, but you can also choose to arrive in Bristol early on Friday morning. We will meet participants off the train at agreed times at Bristol Temple Meads station, and take you to our start point for the ride:  the beautiful headquarters of the charity Penny Brohn UK ( in Pill, just outside Bristol (BS20 0HH).   For those arriving on Thursday, we will have a launch dinner at the Penny Brohn headquarters involving Envision staff and students, and we will stay the night there in their excellent accommodation.  The ride will start latest 9.30 am on Friday 16 June:  starting at Penny Brohn takes us directly on to route 41 of Sustran’s national cycle network.

We will do around 90 miles on each of the first 2 days, enabling a shorter final day.  We will finish Day 1 at the lovely Gainsborough House Hotel (DY11 6BS), a listed Georgian house just outside Kidderminster (   We will ride around Birmingham on the morning of Day 2, with a stop-off at the headquarters of the famous Midland company GKN in Redditch and an optional ride into Birmingham itself for the very keen!  We will stay the night of Day 2 very near Buckingham at the Best Western Buckingham Hotel (MK18 1RY).  On Day 3 we will aim to leave early and approach London through the scenic Buckinghamshire countryside, ending in Central London at the lovely public park right next to the Imperial War Museum (Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park,  SE21 6HZ).  We will aim to get there by 3 pm (all being well!), in time for a celebratory picnic for family, friends and Envision students, graduates and supporters.   We will send out full route information with gradients etc. nearer the time, after riding the route, but if you would like further details about the planned route before then please email 

Is this going to be a big charity bike ride with hundreds of participants, marshals etc.?

No – that isn’t Envision’s style at all. We believe in a challenge!  We will fully prepare the ride route, provide GPX files for the route, mechanics for support and transport bags between accommodation stops, etc., but there won’t be a big group of marshals at every turn. This will be a small, entrepreneurial challenge, in keeping with Envision’s culture, and you’re going to need to work as a team and display the qualities Envision focuses on developing in young people –teamwork, communication, resilience and problem-solving.

We have well over 20 riders committed already and are aiming for a maximum of 30 plus support riders. We welcome both friends who want to ride together and single riders.

So how fit do I need to be? 

Any bike ride of 250 miles in 3 days requires you to train and be reasonably fit.  As long as you are healthy and have trained in advance you should be absolutely fine. There are already several “silver cyclists” committed to the ride, including our middle-aged Chair – if he can do it, so can you!  However if you’re not sure about your fitness, please consult your doctor before committing to the ride.  We will provide a full Health and Safety briefing before the ride.

How much will it cost me to take part? 

Participation in the ride costs £300 – this covers the event costs including shared accommodation typically in twin rooms (a certain number of single rooms will be available at a supplement of about £30 a night, payable later), meals including lunch and dinner (but not alcohol) and refreshments on route.  We will also provide a van, which will pick up bikes from South West London on Thursday 15th January, take them to the start at Penny Brohn, and also move bags between overnight stops.  Please note that you will be responsible for the costs of your own travel to and/or from the start in Bristol and finish in London.  We will take out third party/public liability insurance for the event, but this does not cover individual rider liability in every eventuality and you are encouraged to maintain your own personal insurance.  We hope participants will feel able to fund the £300 themselves, so maximising the amount we raise for Envision.

How much money are you looking to raise?

We’re asking each participant to commit to raise at least £1,000 which puts 2 young people through the ten month Community-Apprentice programme, so if 20 participants each raise £1,000 we could finance 40 Community-Apprentice participants.  For a charity with a turnover of around £700,000 even £20,000 would make a big difference – but we’re about inspiring young people to change the world so not surprisingly we’re thinking much bigger than that!  If we can get 30 riders raising an average of £3,000 each we could provide this life-changing opportunity through 10 more schools to nearly 200 more young people.

Who will my fellow riders be?  

We have a real mix of riders going. Currently we have a roughly even mix of men and women. We have a range of ages from 20 to 60.  We have a real mix of riding experience - from passionate riders to people taking on this sort of challenge for the first time.  We also have a range of people from different backgrounds and careers going - we have private equity professionals, investment bankers, lawyers, town planners, a Financial Times journalist and Envision staff all paid up and committed.  We are setting up training rides in and around London before the ride itself so you can get to meet lots of your fellow riders.  We are confident the spirit and camaraderie of Envision and the ride means you will make new and lasting friendships, even if you think you are signing up as a lone rider!  

Will I get a chance to meet Envision students and graduates if I take part?

Yes, absolutely.  There will be lots of opportunities.  You will be invited to take part in some student events before the ride, to help your fundraising and cycling momentum! We will aim to have an Envision graduate or employee in each cycling group.  Then after the ride all participants and major sponsors will be invited to a party directly following the 2017 Envision London Graduation Ceremony.  This is provisionally scheduled for Tuesday 27th June 2017 in Central London. This will be an opportunity to meet Envision students and graduates, and to celebrate not only the ride but also the achievements of our students over the past year.

What else will be going on?

Each group will be helped to submit two short films about their challenge – just as every Envision team does. In the pre-ride film the group will explain why the chosen cause (to support Envision!) matters, what you are doing to help (get fit and cycle hard), your fundraising target, and what you are hoping to get out of the challenge. In the post-ride film, the group will reflect on the experience, the challenges faced and the skills developed along the way. Don’t worry:  we and the young people you meet will help your group with advice and support in making the film!  The best films will be screened at the Envision London Graduation Ceremony, and at the post-ride party.  The young people will choose the winning team – bonus points if you can inspire or make them laugh! 

I’d love to do part of the ride but can’t do all 3 days.  Can I still participate? 

Yes, we welcome riders for single days, or for 2 out of the 3 days.  The cost will be £50 per day for participants, plus £50 per night for twin room accommodation, but we still ask you to commit to trying to raise at least £1,000.

What if I want to help but don’t feel up to the ride? 

We would love help in organising the ride, either in advance and/or during the ride itself.  Please don’t be shy and contact Amy Garfield or Simon Lough.

I’ve got some questions.  How can I find out more? 

Please contact any of the following:

I’m definitely on – how do I sign up? 

Please email Amy Garfield cc Simon Lough  to confirm your name and basic contact details and your participation. Rider numbers are strictly limited and will be accepted on a first come, first served basis on payment of the £300. We look forward to seeing you there!